Early summer is a very busy time for gardeners. It doesn’t leave much time to go out walking. Baby praying mantises in the garden bring some nature home.
My invasive bamboo is beloved by many creatures which makes me reluctant to get rid of all of it. Birds nest in it. Fireflies rest there during the day. Praying mantises lay their egg masses on it in the fall.
I’m not sure when the baby praying mantises hatched this year. The weather was been much cooler than usual this spring. I do know they hatched.
One year I was lucky enough to see the baby mantises hatch. These are the Chinese ones sold to gardeners. The egg case was on the wild grape vine on the back garden fence.
The babies were a half inch long and squeezed out of the case. They lined the vines and fence weaving in the sunshine. They moved off in various directions by walking and jumping.
Baby praying mantises can not fly. Their wings are only nubbins on their backs until they molt into adults.
The mantises are now two inches long and spring green in color. They like to be in the bamboo as they blend in and lots of insects rest on the leaves.
Last fall I cut back the size of the bamboo patch by two thirds. The bamboo was not impressed. It sent out runners all over the garden. The runners put up shoots. I am now cutting all of these shoots down and pulling some of the runners.
As I cut shoots, I came across one of the mantises. It was climbing up into the bamboo shoots I was targeting.
Instead I sat back and watched the insect climb the leaves. The mantis was determined to go up the shoot reaching up to the next leaf, climbing over it and reaching for the next one.
The shoot was cut and the mantis was shifted to a shoot not scheduled for cutting. It’s nice to know many of the baby praying mantises survived the dangers in the garden, found enough food and are well on their way to their ultimate six to seven inch length.
Meet more wild insects of the Ozarks in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”